Everyone feels lonely

Tips against inner emptiness Overcoming loneliness: what helps when feeling lonely

Why many young people suffer from loneliness

This is modern man: mobile, digital and practically networked with the whole world. And yet he feels lonely. Loneliness no longer only affects older people. A recent study shows that young people in particular are afraid of becoming lonely. Every tenth German complains about the lack of social relationships.

Psychologist Prof. Sonia Lippke speaks in an interview about possible reasons for loneliness and why many young people in particular suffer from it.

What role do social relationships play in our health?

Prof. Sonia Lippke: Social relationships are what define us and what holds us together, especially when families are getting smaller and there are more elective relationships in percentage terms. They are the basis for social support, because it has a direct and indirect influence on physical and mental health. Above all, social support can buffer stress: When people are stressed, friends help to deal with stress better or to overcome stressors. As a result, health can be restored or not stressed so much in the first place.

It is important, however, not to just have general social relationships: Yes, they are important, but they are not enough on their own. You have to have friends, acquaintances, family and neighbors and meet them regularly. Above all, however, it is crucial to get along well, to feel comfortable with one another and to communicate well with one another. We are currently carrying out a project on this, and we would be delighted if many more citizens would give us their opinion.

Has the world become more selfish with digitization?

Prof. Sonia Lippke: Social relationships are still very important and very popular. The previous scientific data over time give us no reason to assume that people have become more selfish or lonely. The change that we are currently observing is taking place in the areas of digitization, mobilization and demographics. Of course, this also has to do with changes in the way of living, for example there are more people who live alone. But fulfilling social relationships are also of central importance for us humans in the digital age.

Do you see any differences in perception between the sexes?

Prof. Sonia Lippke: Women tend to feel lonely, but this is only statistically proven when people are viewed in partnership. When singles are surveyed, there are hardly any differences between women and men.

Are older people especially often lonely?

Prof. Sonia Lippke: Loneliness does not only affect senior citizens, but above all, as current Weleda trend research has shown, younger people. For younger people, this is the phase when they leave their familiar surroundings after school for an apprenticeship or study, change their place of residence for work or go abroad. If everything is strange and different, it is difficult to find new friends and confidants at first. For people in their mid-40s, a new phase of life begins as soon as the children are out of the house or become more independent. The previous life and the partnership change, your own needs and new challenges become noticeable. Loneliness is then a feeling that can describe this state and triggers an impulse to get to know new people again and maybe to renew old friendships.

People over 80 years of age often have fewer social contacts due to impaired health and mobility, and people of the same age often die due to age. It is important to deal with it appropriately and to focus more on quality than quantity. Many older people do it well, but younger people in particular seem to be afraid that they will not do it so well later or they have a wrong view of old age or older people.

Active against loneliness: tips against being alone

Expert Prof. Sonia Lippke recommends taking loneliness seriously at an early stage and doing something about it long before a serious illness occurs.

There are many ways out of solitude. It's not always easy at the beginning. Openness is particularly important for this. It pays to be active yourself. The following tips from American psychologist John Cacioppo can help you feel less lonely.

  • 1. Expand the radius of action: to approach people again in small steps. With simple conversations at the garden fence, a smile at the supermarket checkout. Feel positive reactions and draw courage from them.
  • 2. Get active: looking for a club, volunteering and experiencing that you are needed and that you can make a difference.
  • 3. Select: prefer to maintain few, but important and more intensive contacts. Stay tuned and invest something again.
  • 4. Expect the best: think positively, have hope, experience appreciation.

The number against loneliness

Sometimes it is enough to get rid of the grief. Telephone counseling is a good starting point for anyone who wants to communicate with someone.